This time last year, all eyes were on Shohei Ohtani. But as MLB’s Opening Day inches closer, he’s not even the top Vegas favorite for MVP in his own league. The 2024 race is shaping up quite differently, headlined by two young, electric superstars with undeniable power: Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees and Ronald Acuña Jr. of the Atlanta Braves.

As SportsBook Review’s odds reveal, this isn’t some two-man slugging match. Plenty of usual suspects lurk, like the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Mookie Betts, who faces the challenge of a return to shortstop. But even with perennial contenders, Judge and Acuña Jr. occupy an elite tier. With Ohtani’s two-way prowess neutered by the shift to DH-only, this seems like their year to dominate.

Why the hype? Aaron Judge just delivered an all-time season, shattering the AL home run record. Acuña Jr., the reigning NL MVP, nearly became the only player beside Barry Bonds to reach the exclusive 40-homer, 70-steal club. The tantalizing question now is: can they sustain that magic?


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Judge’s health is a major question mark. Sportsbooks still favor him, likely banking on the sheer power he displayed even through injuries in 2023. But an abdominal issue this spring is worrisome.

As MLB insider Jon Heyman of The Post notes, “I’m a little worried about his abdominal injury, even more than the foot issue.” If Judge isn’t 100%, the MVP door opens for dark horses like the Houston Astros’ Kyle Tucker or the Kansas City Royals’ Bobby Witt Jr.

On the other hand, if healthy, Aaron Judge remains the biggest threat to Ronald Acuña Jr.’s repeat bid. Yet, Acuña Jr. benefited tremendously from the MLB’s new rule changes. His speed led to absurd stolen base numbers, doubling his first dynamic season’s numbers to a massive 73 last year.

Read More: Braves Star Ronald Acuña Jr. Wins NL MVP, Validating Iconic 40–70 Year After Postseason Failure

Plus, even his down-power year in 2022 was salvaged in ’23 by increased barrel velocity. He’s a force of nature, and Heyman rightly declares, “How do you bet against the 40-70 man?” However, it should be kept in mind that this isn’t a two-horse race.


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Don’t sleep on the competition

Of course, Shohei Ohtani, despite losing his pitching edge, could still smash his way to the MVP award. Betts is a legend, even if shortstops might sap his power. And let’s not count out rising stars like the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Corbin Carroll or the San Diego Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr. SportBook Review’s assessment of Soto moving to the hitter’s heaven of Yankee Stadium rings true: “He could very easily eclipse 50 dingers in 2024.”

It is crucial to remember that even expert predictions in sports are often woefully wrong. Just ask Jon Heyman, who humorously admits to striking out with last year’s picks. This volatility is MLB’s charm and its curse. One poorly-timed slump, one freak injury—and the entire landscape transforms.


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The 2024 MLB MVP race is going to be a wild one. Aaron Judge and Ronald Acuña Jr. lead the pack, but surprises lurk around every corner. As fans, all we can do is savor the storylines, appreciate other rising stars, and brace ourselves for one of the most unpredictable and thrilling battles in years.

Read More: Who Has Won the Most World Series MVP Awards?